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Gum Disease – Gingivitis and Periodontitis: Havasu Dentist

In adults, gum disease is a leading cause for dental problems and losing teeth! It may be hard to tell if you have gum disease because it typically painless. Your dentist, hygienists, and assistants are all knowledgeable in the signs and symptoms of gum disease. With regular check ups, you can avoid and potentially reverse gum disease.

Some problems can signal the presence of gum disease, including:

  • gums that bleed easily
  • tender, inflamed, and/or red gums
  • bad breath or taste
  • loose permanent teeth
  • change in bite
  • change in the way partial dentures fit

The risk of developing gum disease can increase with some factors:

  • poor or inconsistent oral hygiene
  • tobacco products and smoking
  • some medications
  • diabetes or other health conditions
  • crooked teeth that are hard to clean effectively
  • pregnancy

Early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis, which includes symptoms of red, swollen, and bleeding gums. Luckily, gingivitis is reversible in most cases! Receiving a deep cleaning from your dental hygienist can help you regain a healthy mouth, followed by good daily oral hygiene.

Periodontitis is advanced gum disease. Over 45% of adults in the United States suffer with chronic periodontitis! Consequently, tissue and bone in the mouth are both affected over time. Aggressive periodontitis causes rapid loss of both bone and tissues and could occur in the entire mouth.

Researchers and doctors are starting to link the onset of systemic diseases (such as heart disease) to periodontal disease. it is important to schedule regular dental check ups and cleanings. Outside of the dental office, great oral hygiene helps maintain your smile for a lifetime to come!

Your Gum Tissue ‘Biotype’ Could Determine How Gum Disease Affects You: Havasu Dentist

Periodontal (gum) disease can cause a number of devastating effects that could eventually lead to tooth loss. However, you may be more prone to a particular effect depending on the individual characteristics of your gums.

There are two basic types of gum tissues or “periodontal biotypes” that we inherit from our parents: thick or thin. These can often be identified by sight — thinner gum tissues present a more pronounced arch around the teeth and appear more scalloped; thicker tissues present a flatter arch appearance. While there are size variations within each biotype, one or the other tends to predominate within certain populations: those of European or African descent typically possess the thick biotype, while Asians tend to possess the thin biotype.

In relation to gum disease, those with thin gum tissues are more prone to gum recession. The diseased tissues pull up and away (recede) from a tooth, eventually exposing the tooth’s root surface. Receding gums thus cause higher sensitivity to temperature changes or pressure, and can accelerate tooth decay. It’s also unattractive as the normal pink triangles of gum tissue between teeth (papillae) may be lost, leaving only a dark spot between the teeth or making the more yellow-colored root surface visible.

While thicker gum tissues are more resilient to gum recession, they’re more prone to the development of periodontal pockets. In this case, the slight gap between teeth and gums grows longer as the infected tissues pull away from the teeth as the underlying bone tissue is lost. The resulting void becomes deeper and more prone to infection and will ultimately result in further bone loss and decreased survivability for the tooth.

Either of these conditions will require extensive treatment beyond basic plaque control. Severe gum recession, for example, may require grafting techniques to cover exposed teeth and encourage new tissue growth. Periodontal pockets, in turn, must be accessed and cleaned of infection: the deeper the pocket the more invasive the treatment, including surgery.

Regardless of what type of gum tissue you have, it’s important for you to take steps to lower your risk of gum disease. First and foremost, practice effective daily hygiene with brushing and flossing to remove bacterial plaque, the main cause of gum disease. You should also visit us at least twice a year (or more, if you’ve developed gum disease) for those all important cleanings and checkups.

If you would like more information on hereditary factors for gum disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Genetics & Gum Tissue Types.”

We’ll Help You Maintain Your Oral Health After Gum Disease: Havasu Dentist

It’s been a long road back to oral health for you after periodontal (gum) disease. But after several plaque removal sessions and perhaps even surgical procedures to address deep infection, your gums have regained their healthy pink appearance.

But now you must face a hard reality: because you’ve had gum disease you’ll need to be extra vigilant with your oral hygiene to avoid another round with this destructive disease. But don’t worry—you won’t have to fight your prevention battle alone. We’ll continue to provide you care that reduces your risk of re-infection. We call that care periodontal maintenance (PM).

The heart of PM care involves regular dental visits for monitoring, cleanings and treatment when necessary. While most patients may visit their dentist at least twice a year, as a previous gum disease patient we may advise more frequent visits, especially if you’ve just finished periodontal treatment. Depending on the extent of your disease, we may begin with a visit every other week or once every two to three months. If your mouth continues to be disease-free we may suggest increasing the time between visits.

During your visit we’ll carefully examine your mouth, as well as screen you for any signs of potential oral cancer. We’re looking for both signs of re-infection or new issues with your teeth and gums. We’ll also assess the effectiveness of your oral hygiene efforts and advise you on ways you can improve.

If we find any signs of disease, we’ll then formulate a treatment plan to effectively deal with it. With frequent visits we have a better chance of discovering re-infection early—and the earlier the better to minimize any further damage. We may also need to take steps to make future PM care easier. This could include gum surgery to alter the tissues around certain teeth for easier access for examination and cleaning.

Our main focus with PM care is to look ahead: what can we do now to prevent a future bout of gum disease or at least lessen its effect? With continued monitoring and care we can drastically reduce your risk for further damage from this destructive disease.

If you would like more information on post-gum disease maintenance, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Periodontal Cleanings.”

Warning Signs of Gum Disease: Havasu Dentist

Do you frequently experience bleeding gums during your daily brushing routine? You might assume that you are brushing too hard and that this bleeding is normal. However, you should know that any bleeding of gum tissue is abnormal and should be considered a potential sign of gum disease.

Gum tissues usually bleed because of dental plaque buildup from poor oral hygiene practices. When the plaque is left around the gum line for a long period of time, 24 hours or more, the gum tissues respond by becoming inflamed — this can quickly become a chronic inflammation.

Here are some other warning signs of gum disease:

  1. Bad Breath. Bad breath is one of the most common signs of gum disease. This is especially true for those who do not floss, because plaque collects in the protected areas between the teeth making them especially prone to gum inflammation. This plaque often produces a pungent smell that causes bad breath.
  2. Red or Sensitive Gums. If you look closely in the mirror, you might see redness of the gums. It may also seem as if your gums are swollen, and in more advanced cases, this can lead to receding gums. Finally, you might notice gum sensitivity when you brush or a sensitivity to hot and cold.
  3. Tooth Loss. If this disease goes untreated, over time, bone loss will cause loose teeth, movement or migration of the teeth into a new and unstable position, and ultimately tooth loss. The rate of progression will depend upon the type of gum disease that you have.
  4. Painful Gums. Once you start to feel acute pain and extremely sore gums, this may mean you have developed a periodontal abscess. When this happens, the bacteria are walled off inside a gum “pocket,” and since your body’s defenses are overwhelmed, there is a battle between the bacteria in that pocket and your body’s defense mechanisms. The result is a collection of pus and extra bone loss. Your gums will be sore, swollen, red and may even discharge pus.

As you can see, the further the disease progresses, the greater the amount of pain and damage that will occur. Therefore, upon the first sign of gum disease, such as bleeding gums, you should schedule an appointment with us immediately.

If you would like more information about gum disease, please contact us. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctormagazine article “Warning Signs of Gum Disease.”

Underlying Factors for Gum Disease Require Long-Term Treatment Strategy: Havasu Dentist

You’ve been doing “all the right things” — brushing, flossing, and keeping up regular office cleanings and checkups. But you’re still struggling with gum disease — in fact, you’ve recently noticed loose teeth and other signs of infection.

While the primary cause of gum disease is dental plaque and calculus not adequately removed by regular oral hygiene and cleanings, you may also be among a small group of individuals with other risk factors that can worsen the effects of the disease. One of the most common of these factors isn’t something you can do much about — the physical characteristics you inherited from your parents. In reality, some people are more genetically prone to disease than others because their body doesn’t respond effectively to certain bacteria.

Chronic stress may also play a role in your body’s resistance level: it can both increase your risk for the disease and magnify its effects. In addition, the type of bacteria causing the disease could be a factor — our mouths contain thousands of strains, with some bacteria more difficult to control than others.

If your gum disease persists regardless of all our best efforts, we may be able to test for whether any of these other factors are involved. Determining the presence of any of these underlying factors can help us fine-tune our treatment approach.

You should know, however, that it might not be possible to effectively address every factor involved. If that’s the case, at some point it may be necessary to consider a tooth replacement option. The best choice by far are dental implants — not only are they functional and life-like in appearance, with proper care they could foster a healthier environment in your mouth by being stronger and more durable than the diseased teeth they’ve replaced.

Our ultimate goal as dentists is to alleviate gum disease and restore health and function to your teeth and gums. If that isn’t completely possible due to uncontrollable factors, we then adopt a strategy to control the disease as much as possible to preserve your teeth for as long as is prudent. This can give you time, then, to prepare yourself mentally, emotionally and financially for future teeth replacement and restoration.

If you would like more information on periodontal disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Periodontal (Gum) Treatment and Expectations.”

Treating Gum Abscesses and the Underlying Gum Disease: Havasu Dentist

If you have periodontal (gum) disease, you’ve no doubt experienced red and swollen gums. If, however, you notice an especially inflamed area next to a tooth, you may have developed a gum abscess.

An abscess is a pus-filled sac that develops as a result of chronic (long-standing) gum disease, an infection caused by bacterial plaque that’s built up on tooth surfaces from inadequate oral hygiene or from a foreign body (food debris) getting stuck below the gums. The abscess, which typically develops between the tooth and gums, may be accompanied by pain but not always (the affected tooth may also be tender to bite on). Abscesses may grow larger, precipitated by stress or by a general infection like a common cold, and then abate for a time.

As with other abscesses in the body, a gum abscess is treated by relieving the pressure (after numbing the area with local anesthesia) and allowing it to drain. This is often followed by cleaning any infected root surfaces of bacterial plaque and then irrigating the area with a saline and/or antibacterial solution. We may also prescribe antibiotics afterward and some form of pain control (usually a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen) to help with discomfort.

Although the results of this procedure can be dramatic, it’s just the first step in treating the overall gum disease. After a few days of healing, we continue with a complete examination and recommend further treatment, usually starting with removing bacterial plaque and calculus (hardened plaque deposits), the underlying cause for the infection and inflammation, from all tooth and gum surfaces. This may take several sessions before we begin seeing the gum tissues return to a healthier state.

The key to preventing an abscess recurrence (or any symptom of gum disease) is to remove plaque everyday through proper brushing and flossing, and visiting us twice a year (or more if you’ve developed chronic gum disease) for cleanings and checkups. Doing so will raise your chances of avoiding an uncomfortable and often painful gum abscess in the future.

If you would like more information on gum abscesses, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Periodontal (Gum) Abscesses.”

Taking a Coordinated Approach to Treating Diabetes and Periodontal Disease: Havasu Dentist

Diabetes and periodontal (gum) disease are two types of inflammatory conditions that have more in common than was once thought. There is strong evidence to show that each of these diseases is a risk factor for the development and growth of the other. Studies have also found that treating one condition successfully may have a positive impact on the treatment of the other.

From the Greek meaning “to pass through the urine,” diabetes mellitus causes an abnormal rise in blood glucose level that can’t be adequately controlled by insulin, the body’s primary hormone for that task. Either the pancreas can’t produce an adequate supply of insulin (as with Type 1 diabetes) or there is resistance to the hormone’s effects (as with Type 2 and gestational/pregnancy diabetes). If you are a diabetic patient, you face many difficult issues with your health: your body develops an altered response to inflammation that may severely inhibit wound healing. You also may become more prone to chronic cardiovascular disease.

Periodontal (gum) disease describes a group of diseases caused by dental plaque, a whitish film that contains infection-causing bacteria. As infection rises within the gum tissues, the auto-immune system of the body responds to this threat and inflammation results. If the person is also a diabetic, this response may be impaired and may have a direct effect on how severe the periodontal disease progresses.

Periodontal disease can also affect your blood glucose level, if you are a diabetic. A number of studies have demonstrated that diabetic patients who have improved control of their periodontal disease through better oral hygiene and dental treatments have shown improvement in their blood sugar levels. There’s even some evidence that effective periodontal treatment that reduces inflammation may improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin. Likewise, bringing diabetes under control with supplemental insulin or positive lifestyle changes can help lessen the likelihood and severity of periodontal disease.

To sum it up, if you have been diagnosed with some form of diabetes, taking care of your teeth and gum tissues can have a positive impact on your diabetes. Likewise, making healthy changes in your lifestyle to bring your diabetes under control can reduce your risk for periodontal disease.

If you would like more information about periodontal disease and its effect along with diabetes, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Diabetes and Periodontal Disease.”

Stop Gum Disease Before it Gets Started with Daily Oral Hygiene: Havasu Dentist

While tooth decay seems to get most of the “media attention,” there’s another oral infection just as common and destructive: periodontal (gum) disease. In fact, nearly half of adults over 30 have some form of it.

And like tooth decay, it begins with bacteria: while most are benign or even beneficial, a few strains of these micro-organisms can cause gum disease. They thrive and multiply in a thin, sticky film of food particles on tooth surfaces called plaque. Though not always apparent early on, you may notice symptoms like swollen, reddened or bleeding gums.

The real threat, though, is that untreated gum disease will advance deeper below the gum line, infecting the connective gum tissues, tooth roots and supporting bone. If it’s not stopped, affected teeth can lose support from these structures and become loose or out of position. Ultimately, you could lose them.

We can stop this disease by removing accumulated plaque and calculus (calcified plaque, also known as tartar) from the teeth, which continues to feed the infection. To reach plaque deposits deep below the gum line, we may need to surgically access them through the gums. Even without surgery, it may still take several cleaning sessions to remove all of the plaque and calculus found.

These treatments are effective for stopping gum disease and allowing the gums to heal. But there’s a better way: preventing gum disease before it begins through daily oral hygiene. In most cases, plaque builds up due to a lack of brushing and flossing. It takes only a few days without practicing these important hygiene tasks for early gingivitis to set in.

You should also visit the dentist at least twice a year for professional cleanings and checkups. A dental cleaning removes plaque and calculus from difficult to reach places. Your dentist also uses the visit to evaluate how well you’re doing with your hygiene efforts, and offer advice on how you can improve.

Like tooth decay, gum disease can rob you of your dental health. But it can be stopped—both you and your dentist can keep this infection from ruining your smile.

If you would like more information on preventing and treating gum disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.

Seven Easy Ways to Prevent Gum Disease: Havasu Dentist

Periodontal (gum) disease can lead to serious infection and even loss of teeth; but it can easily be prevented. Here are seven things you can do to prevent gum disease — or stop it in its tracks if you already have it.

  1. Understand the causes of gum disease. Diseases of periodontal (from the root words meaning “around” and “tooth”) or gum tissues start with bacteria collecting on your teeth, in the areas where the teeth and gums meet. The bacteria, called plaque or biofilm, irritate the surrounding tissues and cause them to become inflamed and swollen, and to bleed easily on contact. This condition is called gingivitis.
  2. Brush correctly and effectively. Brushing twice a day is not just to polish your teeth to pearly whiteness. An important reason to brush is to remove the daily coating of plaque from your teeth. At your next dental appointment, ask me or our staff to show you the most effective way to brush.
  3. Floss every day. Daily flossing removes the plaque that settles in between your teeth, in places where your brush can’t reach.
  4. Have regular professional cleanings. Our hygienist will remove plaque that you missed by brushing and flossing. This plaque hardens into a material called calculus or tartar. In a professional cleaning your hygienist uses special tools to scrape these materials away. The hygienist also measures the distances between your gums and teeth to make sure that inflamed gums have not separated from the teeth, forming pockets in which the bacteria continue to grow.
  5. Recognize the signs of developing gum disease. These signs include any of the following: gums that bleed easily when you brush or floss; bad breath; red or swollen gums; and sensitive teeth.
  6. Stop smoking. If you haven’t stopped smoking for your heart or lungs, here is another reason to quit. Smokers are more likely to develop periodontal disease than nonsmokers. Smoking masks the effects of gum disease, so smokers are less likely to notice the symptoms, allowing the disease to progress to a greater degree before they seek help.
  7. See our office right away if your teeth become loose or your gums become red and swollen. If inflamed gum tissues do not heal, the disease continues to progress. The tissues that attach your teeth to your bone, called ligaments, are lost as pockets deepen as the infection advances. Your gums may also become red, swollen, and painful. As the infection gets worse it eats away the bone around your teeth, causing the teeth to loosen and fall out.

So start with prevention and stop periodontal disease in its early stages.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about gum disease. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Warning Signs of Periodontal (Gum) Disease.”

Recreational Marijuana Could Increase Your Risk of Gum Disease: Havasu Dentist

In 2016, voters in three states—California, Massachusetts and Nevada—joined Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia in legalizing the use of recreational marijuana. These referenda moved the country closer to what may soon be a monumental political showdown between the states and the federal government, which still categorizes marijuana as a controlled substance.

But there’s another angle to this story often overshadowed by the political jousting: is increased marijuana use a good thing for your health and overall physical well-being?

When it comes to your dental health, the answer might be no. The Journal of Periodontology recently published a study that included frequent marijuana users showing increased signs of periodontal (gum) disease. This harmful bacterial infection triggered by plaque buildup can cause weakening of gum attachment to teeth and create the formation of large voids between teeth and gums called periodontal pockets. Left untreated, the disease can also cause supporting bone loss and eventually tooth loss.

The study looked at the dental treatment data of over 1,900 adults of which around one-quarter used marijuana once a month for at least a year. Marijuana users in the study on average had 24.5% of pocket sites around their teeth with depths of at least eight millimeters (an indication of advanced gum disease). In contrast, non-users averaged around 18.9% sites.

To be sure, there are several risk factors for gum disease like genetics, oral hygiene (or lack thereof), structural problems like poor tooth position or even systemic conditions elsewhere in the body. This published study only poses the possibility that marijuana use could be a risk factor for gum disease that should be taken seriously. It’s worth asking the question of whether using marijuana may not be good for your teeth and gums.

If you would like more information on the effects of marijuana on dental health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.